Simmerman Landscape Photography
Art via photography has been a hobby of mine for the better part of my life. From snapshots of friends to the latest modification of a motorcycle or car, there are few better ways to capture a moment for all time than a photograph. While growing up I traveled extensively and there was always a camera nearby. From the eerie passages of Mammoth Cave to the most secluded areas of Reelfoot Lake, I was always trying to get those memories on film and, for the most part, succeeded. None of them hang in the Louvre but they will always have a special place in my heart and the memories invoked by simply viewing them shall forever remain priceless.
It’s been a while since I have been south of the Mason-Dixon line and for nearly twenty years Northern Michigan has been my home, and, from an artist’s standpoint, what a home it is– we have the beautiful Northern Michigan landscape to explore and enjoy. From the stunning scenery along the M22 highway to the inland lakes, rivers, and streams that Michigan is famous for, the possibilities for new discovery are endless.
Architecture and Real Estate Photography
As a young boy, I was captivated by architecture. From building models of houses that I dreamed of bringing to reality to standing motionless and awestruck in front of iconic buildings and structures as I traveled with my family through the southern and western United States, architecture has always had a special place in my heart.
These days, I don’t have the time to build models of houses and the trips and vacations are few and far between, unfortunately. As a compromise, I capture the essence of the structure with the camera and provide the client with truly unique and accurate images that go beyond a simple snapshot.
There is little doubt that having the greatest camera gear in the world will not make you a better photographer, there is also little doubt that having sub-par gear will, eventually, affect a photographer in a detrimental way, usually at the most inopportune times. I often find myself standing in fast moving bodies of water or on the shore of a frozen beach in gale force winds and it is times like these that having gear that can take the punishment and still deliver the artists vision are a true blessing.
I take pride in my camera, lenses, tripod, and supplemental photography kit, ensuring that they are performing in top condition any time I go on location, be it the splendor of the Aurora Borealis or the handcrafted beauty of a one of a kind construction project.
My camera of choice is the Nikon D800. Rugged, weather resistant, and boasting a sensor capable of image quality rivaling that of some medium format camera’s the Nikon D800 is an industry leading imaging device and has yet to let me down when it counted. In the bag are a variety of lenses but my favorite, by far, is the legendary Nikkor 14-24 mm f\2.8. Known the world over for its edge to edge sharpness and unrivaled image quality the Nikkor 14-24 mm f\2.8 is my go to lens when I absolutely positively must get the shot.
Long exposure photography is aided with filters from Hitech-Formatt and Cokin. I am a big fan of the new Pro IRND ten-stop neutral density filter from Hitech and coupled with the ultra wide angle filter holder system from Lucroit, the Pro IRND allows for the capture of some truly stunning and ethereal imagery.
The greatest gear in the world is nothing if not stable and I can think of no other tripod system I would rather use than one from Really Right Stuff. Lightweight, bulletproof, and able to support a whopping fifty-five pounds on top of the BH-55 LR ball head, the TVC-33S tripod from Really Right Stuff rounds out my photography arsenal in truly professional fashion.
After the Shot
I use a custom built computer coupled to an industry leading NEC wide gamut display for the post processing of my images. Photoshop, Lightroom, and the Nik Suite of software products are vital to my workflow and ensure images of the highest quality that remain true to my vision, and, more importantly, true to the scene as it was witnessed.
My approach to the post-processing of images is the result of years of experience and constant evaluation and practice of new techniques and methods. I prefer a realistic look to my images as I feel that it is difficult to improve on what nature so readily and freely provides—the real trick is being there at the right time, a time that, sometimes, lasts mere seconds.
Early in my digital photographic art career I did quite a bit of experimentation with combining multiple exposures of a scene and rapidly processing them using a well-known exposure blending software program. Initially, I was quite impressed with the results as the software quickly provided a lot of ‘wow’ factor to the image. But, as time passed, I began to take a very critical and honest look at the work I was producing with this method and was not happy with the results as they not only looked nothing like the image I was trying to capture in the first place, there was an easily apparent heavy hand to the image and it simply wasn’t for me, it was not the style I was trying to achieve and as a result I felt that I was selling myself short on not only the image quality, but on my vision as well.
As such, I have made some rather drastic changes to my post-processing workflow in recent years and I feel that the results I now achieve are far superior to my previous work and I look forward to further improving. I feel that in order to be the best I can be a level of honesty must figure into the creative process. We are all different and all have different preferences and styles but if we are not happy with our work then it is time for a change.
I still do quite a bit of multiple exposure image combining as I feel it is a very effective way to get around the limitations of the imaging sensors on a digital camera. While the Nikon D800 has quite a bit of dynamic range, it pales in comparison to the human eye. Subtle reflections and highlights of sunlight on a partially submerged rock in a lake, stream, or river, for example, are easily lost in the final image as the far brighter sky dominates the exposure of the image. By carefully combining multiple images the subtle details in the shadows are not lost in the final image. By manually blending the images—as opposed to running them carelessly through an automated combining process—much greater control over the final image is possible, and, most importantly, the beauty of the scene is captured and preserved in a way that represents not only the vision of the artist, but the beauty of the scene as well.
Thinking about this for a while I feel it might be easier writing down what isn’t an inspiration! Briefly, some of the masters of their craft; DaVinci, Renoit, Matisse, Weston, Adams, O’Keefe, Warhol, Ferrari, Clark, Stewart…well, as I said, briefly. Rumor has it that the internet has a word limit.
To continue, Patrick DiFruscia, Jay and Varina Patel, Colby Brown, Elia Locardi, Bobby Bong, Marc Adamus, Daniel K. Cheong, Felix Inden, Javier Olmedo, Xavier Jamonet,…once again, this list is for all intents and purposes an endless one but these are some of the current photographers whose work is, to put it mildly, an inspiration to me. Brilliant and beautiful, their art is worthy of any wall, their vision worthy of any gaze.
A drop of dew on a blade of grass.
The Final Product
Nearly three years ago, I began my first tiny steps of putting my work out there for purchase. After some consultation and research I decided to begin my journey in this area with the fine folks at Zenfolio. Simple to use and much cheaper than a full-blown web page designer, I have nothing but good things to say about my experience. And their product lineup has done nothing but grow in the years I have been with them, offering everything from standard photographic paper prints to stunning images on aluminum, the product gallery is full and sure to satisfy the needs of the discerning customer.
In addition to what is offered by Zenfolio, I personally offer signed and matted images, small production run limited edition prints, and custom imagery by client request. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any questions or concerns regarding anything product related.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you! And I thank you for your support as well. While it is true that I create art with a camera for little more reason than it is a passion of mine, it is an indescribable gratitude to know that others gain some enjoyment from my passion as well.